In its innovation capacity and growth ambitions, the UK space sector is reaching for the stars. The industry grew to £14.8bn in 2016/17 - an annual growth rate of 3.3 per cent and a direct contribution of £5.7bn of GVA to UK economic output. It has tripled its value since 2000 and its productivity is nearly three times the national average.
A goal has been set for the UK space industry to capture ten per cent of the global space economy. The Prosperity from Space strategy, published last year, set out its aim to double the value of space to wider industrial activities from $322bn to $645bn, generate an extra $6.4bn in exports and attract $3.8bn of inward investment.
From earth information to next-generation communications networks, in-space robotics to spaceport facilities services, the number of UK space companies is also growing - at an average of 39 new companies each year between 2012 to 2016.
For these innovative firms to grow and scale up requires investment. Across the space technology field, investment grew by 29 per cent to $3.25bn in 2018. Many companies will need to look to the US, where 41 of the 100 largest VC firms have invested in at least one space startup.
Time and space to pitch to US investors
To help 14 of the UK’s most innovative space and small satellite businesses tap into US investor appetite in this sector, Innovate UK and EEN are leading a Space Global Business Innovation Programme (GBIP) to Silicon Valley and Los Angeles.
Over a five-day visit, the companies will meet with leading Silicon Valley space companies, a range of US-based VC firms, seed funds, regional accelerators and corporate investors. They will also be able to benefit from one-to-one matchmaking sessions and make presentations at the Small Sat Symposium.
The participants will then attend Space Innovation Day at El Segundo, to discuss, present and network with regional aerospace/defence companies, partners and US/UK agencies on the latest tech trends and how to foster innovation and growth through international partnerships. The visit also provides opportunities to develop partnerships, collaborations and connections with US businesses, agencies and researchers.
The aim of this GBIP is to help companies attract foreign investment to support the commercialisation of UK technology, establish international innovation collaborations and to overcome barriers when trying to enter global markets, whether that be finding business partners for joint R&D projects, accessing new markets through technology partnering.
A programme, not just a visit
The West Coast visit is just one element of this GBIP. Prior to the visit, the participant companies have already three days of pitch training to learn how to shape their pitch decks and their presentation styles to suit US investors. Presentations to potential US investors requires a style that does not always come naturally to British entrepreneurs.
Participating companies are provided with bespoke one-to-one support via an Enterprise Europe Network Adviser. The EEN adviser will help develop and implement an action plan to ensure the company and the UK economy derive maximum benefit from the programme of support.